Bell & White 2014 FamCA 258

The case involved a child aged 12 years whose parents had been in litigation for 6 years.

The mother applied for the child to live with her although the child had consistently expressed a strong wish to live with the father and to spend no time with the mother, and where the child had previously absconded on some occasions whilst in the mother’s care to return to the father (child’s wishes).

The judge found that the mother relentlessly pursued what she described as “the right decision.”  The judge described the mother as very dramatic and as appearing almost elated by the experience of giving evidence (personality).   The judge found that the mother was unable to conceive of or to accept any other explanation or evidence that was not consistent with her own version of events, even when the mother referred to isolated incidents or to incidents that she had taken out of context.  The judge found that the mother took no responsibility for any part she had played in the breakdown of her relationship with the child, steadfastly insisting that the father was alienating the child from her (attributions externalising).  The mother could not identify any positive aspect of the father’s parenting of the child (credit nil).

The father had spent time in prison for a conviction that was later quashed.

The judge noted the entrenched nature of hostility and lack of trust between the parents (high conflict couple).  The child’s wishes were long held and clear.

The judge ordered that the child spend time with the mother in accordance with the child’s own wishes, and no orders were made for the mother to spend time with the child.  It was ordered that the father have sole parental responsibility.